Amid uproar, Vatican clarifies Pope's comments on 'sexual slavery' of nuns

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"It's a path that we've been on", he said.

He recalled that over one million Christians live in the UAE, mainly workers from Asian countries, and that he met with representatives of the Catholic community at Abu Dhabi's St Josepth Cathedral, celebrating a mass with patriarchs, archbishops and bishops in which they "prayed in particular for peace and justice, with special intention for the Middle East and Yemen".

When Pope Francis talked about "sexual slavery" he meant "manipulation, a type of abuse of power also present in sexual abuse", said the Vatican on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East on Tuesday, the pontiff admitted that the Church had an issue, the roots of which lie in "seeing women as second class". "I very much hope that a commission will be set up to investigate and that nuns expert in the issue will be called to take part", she told AFP. adding that it could move quickly with trials and raise awareness as she felt that silence is what allows rapists to continue to rape.

Pope Francis said his recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, while brief, was a new page in relations between Christians and Muslims at a time when conflict and violence threaten the goal of lasting peace.

NPR: "Pope Francis Acknowledges, For First Time, Sexual Abuse Of Nuns By Priests" - "Pope Francis, for the first time, acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops, including a case in which some clergy used women as sex slaves". And just last week, the women's magazine of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano identified the clerical culture of the all-powerful clergy as the culprit.

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Catholic nuns around the world have increasingly been reporting sexual abuse at the hands of clerics.

"Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a women's congregation that had a certain level because this slavery of women had entered, even sexual slavery, by clerics or by the founder", the Pope said.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti later confirmed that Pope Benedict dissolved the Community of St. Jean in France in 2005.

Arriving at the Paul VI audience hall, the pope was in good spirits despite recently returning from the quick two-day visit. No mention was publicly made at the time of allegations of "sexual slavery". Phillipe died in 2006.

Last year, the Associated Press discovered cases of nuns having been sexually abused in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia.

Pope Francis' admission of the problem was "the umpteenth blow to the Church's image, but also an occasion to show that change really is under way", Ms Lucetta Scaraffia said. "We're working on it", Francis said of ongoing cases of abuse of nuns.

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